New class of unmanned undersea vehicles emerging

Northrop Grumman Systems Corporation is developing a new unmanned underwater vehicle (UUV) Manta Ray with the aim to operate long-range missions in ocean environments without the need for on-site human logistics support.

The company is developing the UUV using several novel design attributes that support the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency’s (DARPA’s) vision.

Manta Ray, which takes its name from the massive “winged” fish, will be able to anchor to the seafloor in a low power state while harvesting energy from the environment.

Photo: Northrop Grumman Systems Corporation

“At Northrop Grumman, we’re creating a new type of unmanned underwater vehicle,” said Todd Leavitt, vice president, naval and oceanic systems, Northrop Grumman.

“Our design can carry large payloads over long distances without the need for maintenance or refueling.”

Manta Ray will have command, control, and communications (C3) capability to enable long-duration operations with minimal human supervision, according to the company.

The data from Manta Ray will help the joint force make better decisions and gain advantage during missions.

“Manta Ray will provide payload capability from the sea, making it a critical component of subsea warfare and the DoD’s Joint All Domain Command and Control (JADC2) vision,” said Alan Lytle, vice president, strategy and mission solutions, Northrop Grumman.

Northrop Grumman was recently awarded a Phase 2 contract to continue the Manta Ray program that began in 2020.

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As part of Phase 2, Northrop Grumman will work on subsystem testing followed by fabrication and in-water demonstrations of full-scale integrated vehicles.

The company also broke ground on new system integration and test lab that will use modeling and simulation to test the system’s software before getting loaded onto the vehicle.

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